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Clarion Housing Group

Starting with the end in mind

About Clarion Housing

Clarion Housing owns and manages 135,000 homes across the UK. Founded circa 1900, Clarion Housing has been providing good, affordable homes for those that need it the most and a great service to all residents. The group undertakes a range of commercial activities in order to invest in its core social mission to provide homes for those who need them most and, at its core, is a not for profit organisation. The group began fully adopting digital building information management processes in 2020 to support its estates operations and drive efficiency in project lifecycle management.

The implementation of BIM and digital technologies is being led by its development arm (now branded as Latimer) and their Director of Digital Design & Offsite Manufacture, Dave Lee. Implementing BIM in the capital development stage is essential for procuring and managing information consistently leading to improved productivity, efficiency and safety.

The challenge

When it came to the implementation of BIM and digital technologies, Clarion identified that their asset data and documentation wasn’t 100% reliable. With data of this magnitude being captured over so many years in varying formats (even before the birth of computers) it is hardly surprising.  It wasn’t that the data didn’t exist, but the data existed in multiple locations and formats and was named inconsistently. They wanted to be able to interrogate their asset data and have confidence in its completeness and accuracy. Due to the vastness of the estate, Clarion’s home building arm, Latimer, decided to start by establishing asset information requirements with supporting information specs for all new developments.

Dave Lee, championed the project and his vision was clear: “My dedication that I gave to the board when I began, was to capture asset data for all new buildings going forward. In order for that to happen we had to reverse engineer it. I needed Clarion Housing Group to define exactly what information they wanted so I could define this clearly to the contractors, consultants and suppliers.”

Rallying the UK’s largest housing association to define their asset information requirement was no easy challenge. That is where Glider came in.

The solution

The housing association was asking for a solid data structure and data robustness. Dave shared his approach to data process. This is to define, capture, validate, analyse, utilise, and is perfectly aligned to the Glider information value chain.

“It’s simple. In its embryonic stage you have to define to somebody clearly what you want, otherwise, how do you expect to capture it?”, explained Dave when discussing the challenges of digital delivery from suppliers.

The project started with a number of workshops with Clarion employees to capture what information was needed (organisational, exchange and asset information) and how it was to be used. More importantly, the data needed to align to ISO 19650 BIM standards inclusive of open and interoperable COBie and IFC formats. Glider was able to quickly break down the complex business structure. It gathered all the data requirement wish lists ready to be compiled into something simple and succinct that could be used by Dave and his team at Latimer.

Dave describes how the process went: “It was a huge piece of work to try and rally that amount of experts from so many different parts of the business. Not so much the documentation, but actually the corralling of the whole housing association to understand their information needs and get the value they needed. Now everybody’s signature is on that piece of work so everyone, including all of our maintenance people, have plugged into exactly what we want collectively.”

The outcome is a robust Asset Information Requirement (AIR) with a defined Asset Information Specification for all contractors. With these in place, the Asset Information Model (AIM) is usable and complete. And because the housing associations information requirement has now been established, existing data can be transposed into the same format.

The outcome

Clarion Housing has now successfully completed this initial phase of defining its Asset Information Requirements through the definition of its Information Delivery Plan (IDP) and Dave is delighted that he has something that is useful and is delivering results.

The suite of documentation that has been developed means that in response to Clarion requirements, contractors can declare what they’re going to provide, at the time they’re going to provide it, with the level of detail and level of information that is required. This means the data can be validated at any time. Additionally it’s pre-approved because the housing association wrote the validation rules and defined the information they need to see.

“Defining the requirement was the most crucial part because if you don’t define exactly what you want you cannot guarantee what you’ll get through the project. You can’t validate something if you don’t have the benchmark. Therefore you cannot analyse or utilise what you have in the end. So, it is by far the most important piece of work that has happened. I am very thankful for Glider’s expertise and input throughout the process. Their team were second to none and some of the best minds I’ve met in the business with exceptional leadership.”, explains Dave.

The future

The future is looking exciting for Dave and his team at Latimer and Clarion. In addition to capturing and validating data, Dave has created a product book with model design files for every pre-approved and designed flat and house type. If everyone in the framework uses this product book, even down to the couches and the benches, the asset information is pre-populated and importantly, pre-approved by the client (Clarion Housing Group). The only thing that needs to be added is the small building elements and any bespoke builds such as a plant rooms and MEP distribution. It will lead to more offsite manufacturing and standardisation and therefore a predictable cost basis for each one.